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13 Cantos Of Hell

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20 Minutes


This interpretation of 13 cantos from the first part of Dante's The Divine Comedy is dedicated to Carl Koch and Lotte Reiniger, the husband-and-wife team who pioneered the technique of silhouette animation. With the aid of a grant of £600, the sculptor Peter King made it virtually single handed, including the highly distinctive musique concrete soundtrack. Those familiar with Dante's original will have little difficulty identifying specific passages, despite the lack of any spoken content. The first canto sees the unnamed protagonist (an elongated figure rather like a Modigliani creation, his cape flowing behind him as he struggles against the wind) lost in a dark thicket, a sense of depth conveyed by the use of differing shades of grey. The gates of Hell resemble a Stonehenge monument decorated by Egyptians, while the souls of the damned initially float freely, and then are packaged up into ovoid containers for transportation and examination. Vicious creatures roam the landscape snapping at anything smaller (and, later, they turn on those who have committed suicide), while a series of tombs each emits a single large flame. Despite the dominance of the silhouettes in the foreground, the film has a strong sense of texture, resulting from King's background as a sculptor (he was particularly renowned for his work with molten metal), and aside from technical similarities, it's quite different in tone from Reiniger's work. Sadly, despite its considerable promise, 13 Cantos of Hell would be King's only film, as he died two years later at the age of just twenty-nine.



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